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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Vince Vaughn
Catherine Keener
Emile Hirsch
William Hurt
Marcia Gay Harden
Hal Holbrook.
Directors
Sean Penn.
Screenwriters
Sean Penn.
Running Time
148 minutes

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Into The Wild
Not a sequel to Into The Blue or The Wild - but don’t let that put you off


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Plot
It’s 1992, and straight-A graduate Christopher McCandless (Hirsch) destroys his ID, donates his savings to charity and, with no warning to friends and family, drops off the radar to bum around the US under the monicker ‘Alexander Supertramp’.


Review
Into The Wild

Sean Penn’s directorial efforts to date haven’t presented the rosiest images of mankind. From The Indian Runner’s bleak view of sibling relations to The Pledge’s chilling study of obsession and justice, Penn’s purview has been largely restricted to the gloomier, danker corners of human interaction. So it’s surprising to find that his latest film brings us blinking in the sunlight of wide, open spaces, mostly populated (if populated at all) by friendly, helpful souls.
With multiple narrative devices and a near-worshipful emphasis on nature photography, not to mention the implication that man is an interloper in an otherwise balanced wilderness, Penn has evidently soaked up his Terrence Malick. But with its thoughtful pace and loose structure, his depiction of the McCandless odyssey also recalls Lynch’s The Straight Story, albeit with a less wrinkly lead. Both movies are rooted in fact, defy Hollywood convention by suggesting good people outnumber bad, and refuse to distort that assertion for the sake of drama. So the young McCandless (Emile Hirsch) comes to enjoy the friendship of, in rough sequence: a pair of kindly hippies (including Catherine Keener), a loopy Dutch couple, a roguish South Dakotan farmer (Vince Vaughn, who should get out of his comedy comfort zone more) and a lonely septuagenarian (Hal Holbrook).

As Penn presents it, such benevolence has as much to do with McCandless’ charisma as it does with the average American’s capacity for philanthropy; after all, it’s tough to imagine many OAPs inviting any old bum around for supper. Hirsch is perfect for the role, comfortably embodying that unswerving sense of self-conviction which accompanies youth, and closely observing how McCandless must have channelled that so compellingly through his erudition and poetic bent. Even if Penn didn’t spell it out, it should come as
no surprise to learn that McCandless consumed Byron, Thoreau and Tolstoy. While he didn’t convert anyone to his extreme desire to find, as Byron puts it, “rapture on the lonely shore”, it’s remarkable enough that he talked them into accepting it.

Yet McCandless’ straitlaced relatives were never given the opportunity to discuss all this with him, and it’s in Penn’s grasping for the roots of his subject’s bizarre motivations, and his observation of the destructive wake trailing the young man’s disappearance, that he comes closest to revisiting the darker territory of his previous work. There is also the increasingly disturbing drama of ‘Alexander Supertramp’s’ struggle with his choice once he achieves his solitude deep in the Alaskan wilds - not just the rugged realities of living off the land, but also the simple tribulation of having only oneself for company... especially when you realise you’ve made a terrible mistake.

There may be moments when you will want Penn to pick up speed, where you scoff at McCandless’ naivety or become tempted to write off Into The Wild as yet another American love letter to the Big Country that they’re rapidly shrinking, but come the crucial revelation, you’ll find it impossible not to be profoundly affected.


Verdict
With the whole of America as his backdrop, Penn pulls off his most ambitious movie yet. The result is a beautiful and thought-provoking road movie.


Reviewed by Dan Jolin

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Into The Wild
Empire Star Rating

The book by Jon Krakauer is one of my favourites and the movie is just as great. The story and the images are very intense and the whole cast is just amazing. The pictures and ideas stick with you even after you�ve watched it, it�s just brilliant! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by FanaticalAboutFilm at 13:21, 11 February 2011 | Report This Post


The best film of 2007, I will watch this movie for the rest of my life. AMAZING! Luke ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by luke.R at 12:55, 25 September 2010 | Report This Post


The best film of 2007, I will watch this movie for the rest of my life. AMAZING! Luke ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by luke.R at 12:55, 25 September 2010 | Report This Post


Inspirational

A flawless film. Really, quite wonderful. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blaud at 17:18, 21 September 2010 | Report This Post


Wonderful

An unexpected delight, Into The Wild is an epic film that will impact you for days after you have seen it. Poetic, visually stunning and gripping. Whilst I thought Emile Hirsch was very good I have to mention the support cast, particulary Catherine Keener who was terrific and most notably of all perhaps, Hal Holbrook who played the lonely man towards the end. The scene in the truck when he suggested that he adopt Chris was heart wrenching... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by SonnyDaze at 11:03, 17 March 2009 | Report This Post


Into the wild

Without casting any doubt over the credential of Sean Penn Direction and his concept All the characters in the film has given 100%, they were true to subject. Not just the story, but the music given by Eddie Vedder is terrific. 140min is just little less to explain the life of Chris. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Bharat Ahuja at 08:28, 06 February 2009 | Report This Post


Into the wild

Without casting any doubt over the credential of Sean Penn Direction and his concept All the characters in the film has given 100%, they were true to subject. Not just the story, but the music given by Eddie Vedder is terrific. 140min is just little less to explain the life of Chris. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Bharat Ahuja at 08:28, 06 February 2009 | Report This Post


one of my favourite films

This biographical epic "into the wild" brings an epic story to the big screen. It depicts the life of an adventorous young man called Christopher mcandless. Who is cut deep by an insecure childhood, he feels he needs to get away from the conformist world and develop his own persona "super tramp". Emile hirschs performance is immaculate, Penns direction is beautiful, i feel he helps the audience clasp on to the freedom which is meant to be projected.The desirable scenery was ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Shua4444 at 00:12, 14 December 2008 | Report This Post


one of my favourite films

This biographical epic "into the wild" brings an epic story to the big screen. It depicts the life of an adventorous young man called Christopher mcandless. Who is cut deep by an insecure childhood, he feels he needs to get away from the conformist world and develop his own persona "super tramp". Emile hirschs performance is immaculate, Penns direction is beautiful, i feel he helps the audience clasp on to the freedom which is meant to be projected.The desirable scenery was ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Shua4444 at 00:12, 14 December 2008 | Report This Post


s

This movie will change your life, your outlook on it. Sean Penn brilliantly captured the purity of the story and made it a non- Hollywood movie. Whether Chris Mccandless was a hero or a fool is up to you. But he dared free himself of all his securities, something not many people are truly capable of. The music is absolutely brilliant and I have bought both the DVD (great extra's, except for the dreadful press conference with Sean Penn and Emile Hirsch with a French interviewer, in which every ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by marinavandijke at 17:49, 18 November 2008 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

I really enjoyed this film. Visually it is stunning, it is heartbreaking but beautiful and the acting is fantastic. Emile Hirsch in particular impressed me, he is a very talented guy. I went to see The Girl Next Door a few years ago with school friends (they all like romantic comedies!) and even though the film was totally average I knew he was one too watch n understand why people have mixed views on Christopher as a person, but you can't deny he was a very brave guy, and although what he did ... More

Posted by TellThatMickHeJust at 02:17, 25 October 2008 | Report This Post


RE:

y times are there films you put off watching because there are no big monsters, zombies or superheros in it? Well for me fuck loads and finally when I have watched all the available Hollywood shit and I am about ready to take a drill to my face I'll put on one of these neglected films. p; Me too! Watched this for the first time last night. Brilliant, beautiful movie. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by raclements at 08:58, 20 October 2008 | Report This Post


freedom and simple beauty......... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Patrick Evans at 19:39, 04 September 2008 | Report This Post


RE: An Amazing Masterpiece

I thought this was a beautiful & moving film about the difficulty of reconciling how one sees the world with the rules & realities of modern existence. ... More

Posted by Miso_Jace at 14:15, 04 August 2008 | Report This Post


RE: An Amazing Masterpiece

L: MrNobody Fucking brilliant out of 5 ella, you have got the best scoring system in reviewing history ... More

Posted by DanCurley at 14:06, 04 August 2008 | Report This Post


RE: An Amazing Masterpiece

Sometimes I am a total dickhead. How many times are there films you put off watching because there are no big monsters, zombies or superheros in it? Well for me fuck loads and finally when I have watched all the available Hollywood shit and I am about ready to take a drill to my face I'll put on one of these neglected films. So last night I watched Into the Wild, the Sean Penn directed journey of self discovery. The true story of some crazy bastard Chris McCandless as he graduates and... More

Posted by MrNobody at 17:58, 03 August 2008 | Report This Post


RE: An Amazing Masterpiece

I love this film, for me the best in 2007.  And that score.....haunting yet beautiful.  A classic film and I really mean that. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by simonmckergan1 at 17:16, 03 August 2008 | Report This Post


RE: An Amazing Masterpiece

Selfish for what he did to his family, but you cant help but admire the guy's balls. I can't even keep my facebook deactivated for more than a week, wish I could do what he did. I'd send the odd postcard back, mind, let people know I'm alive. ... More

Posted by DanCurley at 17:15, 03 August 2008 | Report This Post


RE: An Amazing Masterpiece

L: Woger L: 1der Man, this film is great. McCandless's story is fascinating to begin with, and Sean Penn has turned it into a very moving film. Emile Hirsch delivers a superb performance, as well as the supporting cast. And the cinematography! Absolutely beautiful! And Eddie Vedder's songs! Damn, it's all so great. Christopher McCandless truly is something of a hero to me. Sure, you could say he was naive and stupid young man -- a good map, a compass and better preparation could ... More

Posted by OSCARDELAHOYA at 17:07, 03 August 2008 | Report This Post


RE: An Amazing Masterpiece

L: 1der Man, this film is great. McCandless's story is fascinating to begin with, and Sean Penn has turned it into a very moving film. Emile Hirsch delivers a superb performance, as well as the supporting cast. And the cinematography! Absolutely beautiful! And Eddie Vedder's songs! Damn, it's all so great. Christopher McCandless truly is something of a hero to me. Sure, you could say he was naive and stupid young man -- a good map, a compass and better preparation could have saved hi... More

Posted by Woger at 17:05, 03 August 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Into The Wild

e Wild is a film about the last few years of Christopher McCandless’s life; which was spent wandering aimlessly around the North American wilderness meeting all kinds of free thinking and free loving, tax dodging vagrants. Christopher, or Alex, as he is better known in the film, was from a privileged background. He ignobly decided to reject materialism and fall off the grid. Alex is an unsympathetic character, and throughout the film I struggled to muster not only sympathy, but also a semblance... More

Posted by OSCARDELAHOYA at 16:59, 03 August 2008 | Report This Post


THE TRUTH

A good movie visually and very deep. I would recommend it. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by largeball at 13:47, 05 May 2008 | Report This Post


An Amazing Masterpiece

Man, this film is great. McCandless's story is fascinating to begin with, and Sean Penn has turned it into a very moving film. Emile Hirsch delivers a superb performance, as well as the supporting cast. And the cinematography! Absolutely beautiful! And Eddie Vedder's songs! Damn, it's all so great. Christopher McCandless truly is something of a hero to me. Sure, you could say he was naive and stupid young man -- a good map, a compass and better preparation could have saved his life--, but I'd l... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by 1der at 18:51, 29 April 2008 | Report This Post


it goes on and on and on, leaving you often wondering where it's taking you. however, this acts as a great representetive of the films themes and messages with are inspiring. the performances are magnificent, while the direction and cinematography perfectly convey the beauty of nature. a very thought provoking film. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by shawshank prisoner at 16:17, 27 April 2008 | Report This Post


Beautiful and Haunting

Penn's finest film to date. Visually stunning, compelling and thought provoking. The dialogue and acting performances are superb, which combined with the poetic unfolding of the narrative, deliver a poignant and simply beautiful story. Essential viewing ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by timgundry at 11:43, 02 April 2008 | Report This Post


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